Various Artists

Café Après-midi: Rose

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While it's virtually impossible to play favorites with a series as consistently strong and eclectic as Café Après-midi, the Rose set is about as good as it gets -- it's arguably compiler Toru Hashimoto's most varied and far-ranging set, effortlessly mixing and matching everyone from Miles Davis to Prefab Sprout. It helps that Hashimoto's been handed the keys to the Sony/Columbia vaults, of course -- the music at his disposal is virtually limitless in its excellence and scope, but as per usual, he goes well beyond the tried and true to recover rare bits and overlooked LP cuts. There's a particularly pronounced emphasis on rock this time out, with tracks from Al Kooper ("Back on My Feet") and Blood, Sweat & Tears ("Without You") as well as harmony pop gems like the Millennium's "I Just Want to Be Your Friend" and the Cyrkle's "The Visit." And of course, there's bossa nova, Elis Regina's "Domingo en Copacabana," and Mary Roos' "Amour Toujours" included. A great introduction to a great series.